Toronto Blue Jays offseason notes for Tuesday, November 8th, the first day of open free agency
The Toronto Blue Jays made a minor roster move this morning that could have bigger implications as the 2017 season approaches.
Catcher A.J. Jimenez has been added to the 40-man roster, keeping him with the club for the time being instead of risking losing him to minor league free agency.
Jimenez is out of minor league options and may elect free agency if he is designated for assignment again, but with this move, the Blue Jays hold on to a legitimate candidate to open next season at backup catcher.
Drafted by the Blue Jays back in 2008, Jimenez has endured a long road in the minors and struggled with injuries at times, including a Tommy John surgery four years ago. Last season, the 26-year-old posted a .241 batting average over 67 games with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Jimenez’s future value has typically lied his defensive capabilities, primarily his ability to control the running game.
Toronto could still add to their catching position via free agency, especially with Russell Martin requiring protection as he enters the final three years of his contract (all of which are worth $20 million). As the current roster stands, however, Jimenez is next in line.
The switch-hitting veteran is a hot commodity in the American League East, as Sherman reports that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are also interested in his services. Morales hit 30 home runs with the Kansas City Royals in 2016, his second-highest career total, but defensive limitations kept his value to 0.7 Wins Above Replacement (FanGraphs).
Morales played primarily as a DH in 2016 but did see a handful of games at first base and in right field. If the Blue Jays are unable to lure Edwin Encarnacion back to Toronto with a lucrative deal, Morales does make for a sensible secondary option.
Kansas City and Morales had a mutual option for 2017 worth $11 million. Morales chose to decline his end of the option, and given his level of production the past two seasons, the 33-year-old should find a two-year deal worth just slightly above the salary he would have earned on that option.